When a tornado, flood or other disaster strikes, rural leaders may not know that rural development can help. Molly Hammond, Acting State Director for Rural Development for Illinois, emphasizes that they don’t have to wait for disaster. In fact, it’s better if they don’t.
“There are programs to prepare. They can find ways to prepare for a disaster, like an early warning siren, if they need a new one, ”Hammond said.
A recently released USDA resource guide compiles rural development programs and assistance in one place. “This guide is here to help them know what to look for,” Hammond said of the “Disaster Resilience and Recovery Resource Guide.”
The guide describes some 40 rural development programs and services for residents, businesses and communities in rural areas to support disaster planning and recovery.
Hammond explained that the guide’s information grid gives a quick way to find out who is eligible to apply to different programs that are grouped by categories of help. These categories are: economic development planning and housing; Education and formation; infrastructure and equipment; and support for industry and entrepreneurship and business development.
The guide “breaks down the categories to help applicants narrow it down,” she added.
Applicants are not limited to local government units, but include non-profit organizations and cooperatives, such as electrical and agricultural cooperatives; qualifying hospitals, libraries, faith-based organizations, community colleges, universities and educational institutions.
The resource guide also features examples of how USDA programs have been used to support recovery efforts. Hammond said Illinois received $ 1.7 million in assistance when 27 counties were designated federal disaster areas in 2019. Another time, five communities received $ 618,000 for supply systems assistance. in community water after a disaster.
Beyond rural development, the guide summarizes technical assistance available from federal agency partners, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the US Department of Health and Human Services, that work with the USDA. to support rural communities in disaster planning and recovery. Hammond said work on the new national resource guide stemmed from the state’s former director of rural development Colleen Callahan’s stay in Washington, DC, working on the 2012 drought. At that time, officials have developed a national recovery website to compile federal help and information and align resources.